Monday, May 30, 2011

Mail bag

Molly, the sentinel, and Trooper, early one morning
It is so strange waking up on rottweiler time without a rottweiler standing in bed, wagging her whole body, letting us know that the sun is almost up and that it's time to go outside to run in the pasture.  Molly is the alarm clock around here, typically, and she's gets Zachary up and pacing, and Trooper comes over to my side of the bed to put his nose in my face.  I woke up thinking, this is what it's like to live without dogs.  I know people do it, I just don't know how, or why. 
Most of the dogs headed out to boarding facilities yesterday and we leave today, leaving a housesitter and two very capable rottweilers in charge around here.  It's always hard to leave the dogs, but our dogs know the routine; they know that we'll be back, and I suspect that they tell the others.

Zoe went to a temporary foster home.  She and Bernie (formerly my Rowdy) were instant friends and will be having a good time.  Murphy and Sable are ok with it. 

Left to right, Bernie, Zoe, and Murphy

I had an email from Tippy's adopter yesterday.  Tippy is a smallish, young, female shepherd they adopted from me some time ago.  They have since moved to New York where they have a beautiful fenced yard for their two shepherds.  They have also gotten involved in rescue work. 

This was their email, their latest picture of Tippy, and below that, my response.

Tippy went on vacation with us driving from NY to Iowa, Arkansas, and back to NY. She is a great traveler, no barking in motels or rest areas. We did some camping and Tip fell in love with the top bunk. I am on my fifth GSD rescue. One came in so sick we had to put her down. She had no white, red, blood cells and no platelets. She was bleeding internally. That was really tough for me. Here is the link to the rainbow bridge site.  Her official name was Biddy but we called her Ebony.
Tippy was a super traveler and got along with all the dogs at the homes we visited. Mo stayed in a doggie motel. He barks too much to take him.

I love the picture of Tippy on the top bunk.

I'm sorry to hear the news about Ebony. Thank goodness for the 10 weeks or so she had with you at the end of her life. At least she knew love and kindness at the end. I've had a couple fosters that also never made it out of foster care, but I always consider them mine.
I am so happy that you've gotten into rescue work yourself. It has its ups and downs as you know, but we also know how rewarding it is when you place a dog in a good home. An even bigger reward comes when the adopters, like you, become rescuers themselves.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words, maybe more

I don't really have a coherent theme for this post nor anything particular to say, but I have several pictures I'll just post with captions.

The shepherd brothers, Ranger and Koa, on top of the 6' high platform in their kennel.


Zachary and Molly shared a vet visit on Friday.
Cabell and Gypsy were there earlier in the week.

This was Molly at the vet this week for her annual visit

Star, happy and content in her new home.
This is what I like to see.

A dobie pup named Sassy. 
She may be coming my way when we return.



Zoe and Bernie meeting this morning. 
Bernie's family is fostering Zoe while I'm away.

This guy was found wandering the Appalachian Trail.
I've offered to take him in when I return, but he may be adopted by then.

Molly, right, is one of the hoarder shepherds who moved to another foster home and was then adopted. She is settling in nicely. 

Maggie Mae, below, is another hoarder shepherd who moved to another foster home after having surgery to remove a mammary tumor. 

She was recently adopted and the foster shared this email with me from the adopter: 

Just wanted you to know that Maggie has settled in like she has lived here her entire life. I took her to the vet yesterday to get heartworm and flea/tick medication and also a check-up. The vet said she looked very healthy.

She has taken to our sons as well as all of the neighbors!! She likes to go outside and play while we are out there. Thank you so much for helping us fill an empty space in our family. I admire the work you do with these animals. You are truly a special person.

Friday, May 27, 2011


We are heading to Yellowstone for a family vacation next week.  Years ago, my mother and father would load up our family (three kids), into a station wagon and we would head out to see America.  We went west mostly, although we made a trip east one year to see D.C. and a lot of civil war battlefields.  We didn't go to amusements parks (I've still never been to any of the Disney crap); we went to state and national parks.  I believe that family history tells that my first visit to Pike's Peak (pic below) was in a stroller.  When my folks started these vacations we were camping in a tent.  Although we went through a series of progressively larger travel trailers over the years, they never approached the size and level of luxury you see on the roads today.  We were all about soaking in the culture, history, and environment of the places we visited.  One of those places is Yellowstone and my mother is taking us all there again next week.  "All" includes my two sisters and our respective spouses, a gathering that we haven't had since one Thanksgiving several years ago because we are spread among Kansas, Montana, Kentucky, and Virginia.  The occasion is my mother's 80th birthday, which is actually this Sunday, the 29th, but the following week was the closest we could get everyone's schedules to align and get reservations in the park. 

Pike's Peak, taken from an airport shuttle bus on a business trip to Colorado Springs last week.

Although I did some backpacking with friends to the Tetons, Pike's Peak, the Grand Canyon, and the John Muir Trail in later years, I haven't been back to Yellowsone since I was there with my family as a kid.  I still have a souvenier buffalo from there that I'm sure is now a collector's item.  I saw one in a museum display about the history to travel to the national parks last year when we were in Montana.

So we are all looking forward to the trip, although it's going to be difficult to pack clothes for cold weather when it's been hot and humid here in Virginia this past week. 

And so the countdown to our departure begins.  One day of work to go.  Fifteen dogs to deal with.  (How the hell did I get back up to 15?)  Someone is coming this morning to pick up little Ryland.  I took him to the SPCA in Charlottesville yesterday to meet cats and he was great.  He saw the cat, but had no interest and made every effort to avoid contact and confrontation.  I'm guessing that Ryland's nose has probably encountered a cat's claw at some point in his life.  He was very good so I think he should be fine in this temporary foster home. 

Zoe the boxer is also going to a temp foster home where she will have two young male dogs about her size and speed to play with.  The rottweilers and Trooper will stay at home to guard the housesitter and secure the premises.  The rest are being split between two boarding kennels.  This arrangement gives me the peace of mind I need to be able to leave home and enjoy myself. 

While I was at the SPCA yesterday I also met my next intake, a mixed breed of some sort named Gypsy.  She's just a puppy but apparently didn't pass the temperament test because she would protect particularly high value food items.  I think that's nothing more than puppy behavior and I have some dogs around here who can train that out of her.  Mostly she needs to run off her energy and learn to play, eat, and live among other dogs. 

She's cute, she's sweet, she's just a big pup, and she's still growing. 

I'll find her a home without small children who might wander too close to her food dish.  She is said to be very smart and trainable too, so I'll have to find her a person who is smarter than she is.  That's not always easy to do.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Bo, in his new digs, with all day shade and fan.

Today's forecast prompted a reshuffle of the fosters.  Bo the rottie's kennel doesn't have enough shade for a hot day.  I moved him over to a kennel under a canopy formerly occupied by Odie the shepherd.  There is also a fan hanging from the frame of that kennel that provides a breeze.

Odie moved into what we call the Drew kennel (named for a former foster doberman.  The Drew kennel is actually one third of the big kennel complex occupied by the shepherd brothers, Koa and Ranger, as well as the boxer, Zoe. 

Zoe, enjoying a romp in the dog yard

I moved Zoe into the dog yard with Luke, Ryland, and Schatze, in addition to our Zachary and Trooper, making six dogs in there during the day--they all come in the house at night.  After the shepherd brothers and Odie get acquainted, I'll open the gate separating them and let those three boys all together. They will either have a great time or a huge fight, stay tuned for that.

Luke is happy with a ball, rock, or anything in his mouth.

You may have noticed a new name in the prior paragraph, Luke.  He's not really new.  He's the senior shepherd who was returned along with the rottie Tasha, by an owner/adopter after many years because he moved to California and couldn't be bothered with his dogs anymore.  Luke had gone to another foster home, which probably would have been a long term arrangement, except that she lost her job and is in the midst of a job search and move.  She has a dog of her own who is staying a friend right now, but asking a friend to babysit your foster dog is a bit much.  That, I can understand.  Luke is an easy keeper.  He's happy with a ball or a rock in his mouth, is good with other dogs, and crates without a problem.  Finding an adopter for a senior dog is tough, however. 

Trooper always has a nice smile, if he likes you

I also put new tags and collars on Odie and Bo, both of whom have now been pretty thoroughly de-wormed as well.  Odie has had three days of panacure and probably five for Bo. 

I need to take Ryland to CASPCA this afternoon to meet cats and I'm planning to park my butt at Starbucks with an iced coffee and sit until I get all my paperwork in order.  I have three adoption contracts that need to be mailed in and I need to make folders for the new guys.  I seem to be missing one completed contract, hopefully I just put it in the wrong folder.  I also need to do a headcount and copy all the rabies certificates for boarding purposes.  I have reservations made at two kennels and temporary foster homes lined up for two dogs, so I need to sit down and figure out who is going where and who to leave at home with the housesitter. 

It's after 10:00 a.m., I'd better get to work. 
Zachary and Ryland, chillaxin' in the shade.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Damn, that's cute

I finally got Zoe to the vet today.  She was actually current on her shots but I didn't have any paperwork to prove it so she got them again, and a heartworm test, which was negative. 

She's about 2 years old, cute as can be, but very energetic, enthusiastic, and full of kisses.  I guess not everyone loves a boxer's face, it's maybe an aquired taste.  But I've sure come to love the breed. 

Zoe was good with all the vet stuff although getting her to be still enough for an exam was a little difficult.  She weighed about 52 pounds.

Zoe had lived with a cat and we met a cat at the vet's office.  She was very interested but actually backed away when we got close.  She had lived with young children as well, but still, no cats and no kids would be my preferred home for her, with a fenced yard.  She's a good natured dog, very good in fact, but she's too much dog for someone with little kids and no fence. 

Zoe was crated at her former home, at night or when the owners were away.  I haven't been crating her here because she's been outside with the shepherd brothers, Koa and Ranger.  She was fine with them, and with Schatze, and I think she'd be fine with any dog. 

If I could find a great home for her or even a great foster home, I'd love to move her by this weekend so I'll have one less to board next week. 

Odie shared her vet visit, and he was also vaccinated and tested negative for heartworm.  He's quite underweight at 77 pounds but the panacure and a lot of food should sort that out.  I doubt that he'd ever seen the inside of a vet's office.  I didn't get any pics of him today because it was all I could do to hold him for the blood draw, vaccines, and exam.  He wasn't aggressive, but he did struggle to get away until we muzzled him and I did the bear hug on him.  He was glad to be back home. 

Unrequited love

Poor Ranger.  He just adores the boxer, Zoe, and tries his best to engage her, play with her, pester her.  He tries anything and everything his little shepherd brain can think of, but the truth is, she's just not that into him. 

He's that guy in a bar who keeps getting shot down by the girl of his dreams but keeps coming back for more, hoping that his next approach, or at least his persistence, will pay off.  Rejection doesn't phase him.  He doesn't use force but he doesn't give up either.  It's sad, but funny too.  Fortunately, perhaps, when Ranger goes to his propsective home there will be a female dog, Starr, as his companion.  Starr is an alpha bitch and will put him in his place and I expect Ranger will be happy as long as she pays attention to him. 

Ranger is much better now, almost finished with his medication and he's eating normally again.  I'll have him back to the vet for a re-check prior to adoption, but I think he's good to go.

Monday, May 23, 2011

No good sense

I'm leaving town in another week so it really doesn't make good sense for me to be taking in another dog right now.  But I had previously committed to taking this one, a bi-color named Odie, and he comes from my doggie dealer down in SW Virginia.  She doesn't have a computer, doesn't read this blog, so I can safely say that she is probably the only person in the dog world I can't say "no" to.  That's mostly because she has never asked me to take a dog that I can't place.  She knows a good dog when she sees one and she knows what I like. 

She took in this dog because he needed to be taken; the owners just couldn't care for him anymore.  Fortunately, they don't seem to have scarred him psychologically.  He was very thin but has been wormed and has been putting on some weight.  He seems fine in terms of temperament and Linda described him as a "gentleman."  The owners said he was 2.5 years old, but he looks more along the lines of 3 or 4 to me.  I need to get him to a vet this week for vaccines and heartworm test because I'll have to board him next week, so I'll get another opinion on his age. 

He is intact, of course, and I don't think I'll try to get taken care of before we go.  The trip to pick him up was 5 hours out of my day that I didn't really need to lose, but that's the way it goes.  Clay is outside mowing this evening anyway so I can finish work. 

Although I may not have shown good sense in taking in this dog at this time,  at least I did turn down two others today.  I hate to do it, but we can't take them all. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My (latest) mistake

When this guy first contacted me he said that he and his wife had a disagreement.  He wanted a German Shepherd Dog.  She wanted a small, fluffy dog that would be easy to walk.  He was interested in Koa.  My first reaction, and I told him, was that he was going to lose that argument.  

So it was my mistake when I adopted Koa to him last week.  He sent an email to his caseworker on Thursday about returning Koa because he was being destructive in the house when left alone.  She forwarded it to me and I wrote him back saying that I would meet him on Saturday in Culpeper or Sunday in Gainesville. 

He called the caseworker again today basically demanding that someone come pick up the dog immediately, he was too busy to meet me either day and it was too far to drive.  Fucking piece of shit.  Seems that he was leaving the young dog alone for 11 or 12 hours.  Fucking stupid piece of shit.  Anyway, it was my mistake and one that I will try not to repeat. 

The caseworker kindly picked up the dog from the asshole and met me up in Warrenton this evening.  I just got home and have decided not to make the trip to Gainesville tomorrow.  I have a lot to do myself and I've already driven that stretch of road once this weekend. 

Koa and Ranger were glad to see each other and they are together again tonight. There was a lot of interest in Koa and I'm sure there will be again, but I'm rather soured on northern Virginia adopters. I will try to find a competent local adopter for him.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Star is doing well, Jeremy is doing well.  That's all I've heard about the dogs that went this past weekend.  I'm heading out of town for a few days, leaving Clay in charge of the remaining 6 fosters and our own 6 dogs. 

Ranger is eating, and eating dog food too.  He will avoid a pill no matter what I hide it in, so I'm just opening the amoxicillin capsules and sprinkling the powder over the meaty food.  He's also eating dry food and biscuits under the good stuff, and he's much more active now, his nose is normal again, etc.  If I wasn't going away right now I'd put him back into the big kennel with the other fosters.

Schatze's limp is gone so her foot must be healing.  She has really taken to the indoor life and is rather barky outside now.  She's still coming in at night. 

New boxer girl is fine but she'd rather have attention than food so I think Ryland may be getting most of her food as well as his.  That's ok for now, she's not underweight. 

The new rottie boy, Bo, has warmed up to me and even to Clay just with a couple of practice feedings before I go.  He's very sweet. 

I went to court yesterday to see the white trash bitch, Jennifer Brooks, in her first appearance since getting arrested yet again.  She showed up with her boyfriend, freshly out of prison.  She admitted that she can not care for the dogs, but said that her boyfriend can.  She had lied when she said she had moved and had a new, clean house for the dogs.  She was still living in that fecal encrusted house where she had been before.  That's fine for her, I hope she dies there, but it's not suitable for a dog and the judge only had to look at the pictures to agree.  The judge ruled that the seizure of the dogs was justified but that's all for right now.  The criminal matter is still pending and will likely be continued because she wants to try to hire another attorney. 

The picture here is Sparky, one that I took a while ago and have been saving. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

GPD (gallons per dog)

Buddy on his way to a new home

I zeroed out the trip meter on my odometer when heading up to Culpeper with Koa Friday evening.  When I got back home from Sterling on Sunday, it was reading about 350 miles, which got me thinking about my GPD (gallons of gas expended per dog adopted).  Obviously it's more efficient if I take multiple dogs to events so I rarely travel with less than four.  I'm not sure what my GPD is, and I'm not sure I want to know.  There is generally a trip to meet and pick up the dog, and usually at least two vet visits, one for vaccines and heartworm test, and again for spay/neuter, or more if the dog has a medical problem. Then there are the adoption events, and generally a visit to the adopter's home, even if someone else has already done the home visit.

Schatze, sure she's a little bitchy, but she's not so bad.
After all, she is a female shepherd
The only way to really reduce my GPD that I can see would be to do local adoption events.  But I'd really rather just be the guy who shows up with the dogs to someone else's event.  Hosting an event means setting up a table and dealing with the general public, which would really waste my limited amount of patience and tolerance for stupidity.  If I show up at an adoption event that someone else is holding, there are usually other volunteers who will handle my fosters and I can just float about and talk to people who are interested in one of my dogs. 

Today VGSR was at a new location in Sterling.  There wasn't a lot of traffic there but it made a fine meeting spot for the adopters I had lined up for Jeremy and Buddy.  Both dogs went to great homes with adopters who were very excited to have them.  Buddy's folks are experienced with a difficult dog and he's matured a bit since being here, so I hope this will be the one that works for him.  Jeremy went to a woman who wanted an older dog and wanted a mixed breed.  A perfect fit for Jeremy.  Her other dog looks to be about the same percentage of shepherd in a female form.  The dogs got along fine and Jeremy really wanted a home so I hope he will be doing his part to make this work. 

Ryland, relaxing in the sun

Schatze was better than I expected her to be at the outing and we got some better pics of her.  Ryland was really wanting to nap and that's mostly what he did. 

I had a pleasant surprise when I got home too.  Ranger finally ate the dry food in his bowl, the first regular, dry dog food he had eaten since he got sick.  If that continues he may be able to move to his new home soon.  

Jeremy and his new sister, Roxy.
Home at last.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I hate the telephone

We don't have caller ID so I never know who is it, which is probably a good thing or I'd rarely answer it.  CVS pharmacy robocalls daily about refills.  There is some fly by night debt relief business that intentionally violates the no-call list.  I inexplicably get surveys from some right wing political organizations that I have to wait through until a live person comes on so I can spew vulgarities at them.  And there's the fund raising calls; they are brief at least because I just hang up.  I have a bit of a mental block about the telephone.  It's ring fills me with dread and I hate to place outgoing calls as well.  It can take me forever to get around to dialing a phone to make a call that I don't really want to make.  I could happily live without a telephone, as long as I had email.

Part of my problem with the phone is that often the calls are about dogs in need, more often than not they are dogs that I can't help.  And it's not like my phone number is listed as "Call this guy to dump your dog", you have to know someone who knows me and knows that I do rescue work in order to get my phone number.  I want calls about dogs in need, but I hate it too.  I even hate calls from people who are wanting a dog because I feel cornered if it's obviously a bad applicant.  Generally it's someone who can't be bothered filling out an application and thinks that if they talk to me I'll give them a dog.  It doesn't work that way.  An email is so much more likely to get my attention, and stick in my memory.  I can save an email, a phone call is gone as soon as I hang up. 

Well, enough about the telephone.  I got home with the rottie today, got him settled, got his pictures on the blog, and my answering machine was blinking.  I listened and had to return a call about a boxer.  It was a local dog,  young, too much energy for the household.  Same old story, with a kicker.  Today the dog had gotten her foot caught in the crate, which I've seen happen many times.  It scares the dog, they yelp, often jump and jerk the foot in the wrong direction and make matters worse.  In this case the woman tried to free the dog and got bit.  My call was from the sister of a neighbor of the people who had the dog.  Fine, I told her to pass my number along.  

My back is killing me today, so I went to lay down and take a muscle relaxer.  The phone rings again and it's the director of the Fluvanna shelter, asking what I know about an owner surrender boxer.  As we were talking, the dog showed up at the shelter and I was soon back on the road over to the shelter for the second time today.  

She's a nice dog, the bite incident was just one of those things.  She's lived with kids and a cat.  She's sweet, she's a beautiful, one year old pure bred boxer, and she's spayed!  She's here now, named Zoe, but that may change too.  These pics are of her meeting Buddy.  Their relationship will be brief because he's getting adopted tomorrow.   I'm thinking that she will enjoy Ryland's company.  Apparently she's very playful; I bet Trooper would like her.

Finally, a rottie

It seems that there's been such a deluge of shepherds lately that I haven't had anything else.  For the number of shepherds that I've had, they've been pretty easy and well behaved, but I do generally prefer to have a little variety to avoid the group think problem that shepherds are prone too, all sharing a single brain. 

Rotties are independent thinkers--stubborn as can be, but they are generally right and they know it. 

The new guy is named Bo, although I may change that.  He came from the Fluvanna SPCA, having been found as a stray.  He's still underweight, dull coat, and he's heartworm positive, but he seems like a nice boy. 

Sparky greeted his new neighbor by pissing through the fence into the new guy's kennel.  Bo didn't take offense, he just checked out the smell and added his own to the mix.  Male bonding at its best.  Sparky took the opportunity to do a butt sniff to get acquainted. 

They told me he was scared of men, and he was a little scared of me at first, but I got a nose touch and a sniff.  Rotties are pretty easy to win over with a big dish of dry and canned food.  I would guess that "love me" and "feed me" are the same words in rottweiler language.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fortunate Friday

Friday the 13th was a lucky day for two foster dogs from my household.  Star and I went to her new home early this evening.  She was fine with the two small dogs; she had met them before.  The cat was new, but she ignored it, and apparently this cat has trained several dogs already.  They have a crate for the dog and one for the cat, so they are well prepared to work it out. 

Star is a beauty, and she has a new name, Maya, which is the new name of another one of my former fosters as well. 

After dropping off Star, I headed north to Culpeper to meet someone who wanted to adopt Koa.  Many people wanted to adopt Koa, actually, and Star too for that matter. 

It was dark and misting heavily when we met, never ideal conditions for transferring a dog and doing the paperwork that goes along with it.  Consequently, my parting pictures of Koa aren't great, but Pam had produced stunning portaits of Koa at the last adoption event anyway. 

As I look at them now, however, I realize that these pics are actually very good in terms of what they show.  In the first pic I was walking the dog away from the cars to give him a chance to pee while the contract was being completed.  I only managed to get a picture of the back of his head because he was intently interested in the new people.  That's a good thing. 

In the second pic, I cut off the dog's nose, but what it shows is the dog looking directly and intently at his new owner.  That's a very good thing, especially for a shepherd because they want and need direction and it's nice when they look to a human for that direction rather than heading off on their own.  It's a very good sign for their new relationship.